How to protect your data and accounts against external threats

We live in a “connected” world. I don’t even have to explain what that word means – you already know and understand. Whether it is to check or send email, message people, update social networks or buy stuff online. The truth is that we spend a large part of our lives using things that are connected to the Internet data.

But do we pay enough attention to our personal data? Do we make sure to protect it? Do we know how to keep private the things that we want to stay private? Are we sure we even know what we should be keeping private?

Many millions of dollars are spent on cybersecurity software for laptops and phones every year, but many millions of people are hacked anyway. It is important to be vigilant and remember the basics of data protection, as sometimes we expose ourselves to very obvious risks.

To help me write this article, I consulted several articles written by Joseph Steinberg, a well-known cybersecurity expert, who works today as an expert witness on cybersecurity-related court cases. In addition, he is a columnist for publications like Newsweek, Forbes, and Inc.,and he is also the creator of the cybersecurity technologies sold by Green Armor Solutions and SecureMySocial. In addition, he has a number of patents for his work on strategies and methods to verify identities and prevent data breaches, including those that might occur on social media.

Here are 10 steps to protect your computer and keep your data safe.

Be careful with the environment

If you are sitting in a cafeteria or on the train and you are working or chatting on the computer, be aware of who is sitting around you. This is especially important when working with sensitive information. Do not work on anything you don’t want others to see, like personal emails or confidential work documents, and make sure you don’t spread papers or anything else important on the table in front of you.

If you absolutely need to work on the road or in a coffee shop, you can use a privacy filter. A privacy filter is a screen cover for a laptop that allows the information on the screen to be visible only if you are directly facing the laptop, so that people on the sides of the laptop are not able to read what you are working on. Of course, no privacy filter is as good as not working in a public place to begin with.

Do not open emails from unknown senders

Beware of unknown email addresses and attachments. Do not open attachments and never reply if you suspect the sender’s authenticity. If the email is from an entity such as your bank, you can surely send it to the company and ask them to confirm if it is true. Hackers are getting smarter, so you must be alert when opening emails. It is important to always know who the sender is and if it is safe. As Steinberg points out, whoever sent the email likely knows that smart people do not open emails that they are not sure are safe, and the sender will not be upset if you call them to check before opening the email.

Protect your data with good passwords

Steinberg offers unusual advice for creating strong, easy to remember passwords. You can read his entire article here. Security risks arise from the use of complex passwords because humans are unable to remember them.

Using long, complex passwords on a small number of sensitive sites could be a good idea, but when you do this too often you will be tempted to inappropriately reuse passwords, write down passwords in insecure locations, and choose passwords with poor randomization and formatted using predictable patterns.

As Steinberg wrote, instead of telling people they must always use complex passwords, it is more effective to recognize the limitations of human cognition and instead suggest they categorize the systems for which they need passwords. You shouldn’t take the same level of care in securing your own unclassified systems as the government does with its top-secret information and infrastructure.

He argues you should categorize the systems you use and create your own informal password policies based on that classification. You can use a variety of different password strategies based on the level of security you require: There are times and places for using random passwords, passwords made up of multiple words perhaps separated with numbers, passphrases (long passwords of 25 or more characters—sometimes full sentences), and even simple passwords. When it is feasible, convenient, and used, multi-factor authentication greatly improves security.

Use Security Software

Make sure to install security software system on your devices and keep the software up to date, both in terms of downloading and installing updates and paying for your subscription if required. Not only will it protect you from most virus-infected emails or corrupted websites, but it will also help protect your personal information. Make sure you never store personal data on public computers. That should be obvious, but personal information is still found on public devices often.

Make a backup

One of the best ways to protect your data is to make a backup.

That way, if something happens to your computer, you’ll have a duplicate copy of everything. Remember that you should make a backup regularly. You can also set your device to update automatically.

Install updates

While it may seem annoying to stop what you’re doing to allow your device to update, these updates are actually done to keep your data safe. The most up-to-date version of your operating system usually protects you against threats better than do older ones.

Do not use public Wi-Fi

If you can avoid doing so, do not use public Wi Fi. These days it is easy to put your phone into access point mode to connect it to the Internet over a cellular network, and have other devices that need Internet access connect to your phone via Wi-Fi to share the cellular connection.

Use a VPN network

Using a VPN can conceal from others (including hackers) exactly what you are doing on the Internet,

Read about network threats

As technology advances, so do the methods of hackers. It is important that you know the risks, viruses and scams that threaten you and your cybersecurity. One of the best ways to stay alert and protect your data is by reading the latest industry news. Knowing what and how can affect your computer, operating system or software will allow you to better protect yourself and before it is too late. I recommend reading Steinberg’s posts which usually come out once a week or so. You can visit his website here.

Print a copy

Sensitive data that should ideally not be stored on a computer – for example recovery codes or passwords – can be printed out and put into a fireproof and waterproof safe.